The mayor of a small Texas suburb has told a fellow city council member that women should not be allowed to pray at public meetings. Wylie Mayor Eric Hogue issued the directive and an invitation was extended to have some members of the local Youth With a Mission chapter lead prayers at a council meeting.
Noting that it was his duty as a preacher to following the Bible on these matters, Hogue replied: "I would like that. All I ask is that those leading the public prayer be young men."
He went on to cite two verses - 1 Corinthians 14:34-25 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and - saying that "as preacher for the Cottonwood Church of Christ," he takes the two verses "literally."
He then attached the two texts, quoting from the King James Version Bible:
"11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." - 1 Timothy 2:11-12
"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." - 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
The mayor concluded his letter by saying he had "always requested that a man lead the invocation."
"I understand not everyone may agree with me, but I can't go against my conscience.
After the email appeared on social media, Hogue clarified his views to a local TV station.
"I believe a lady can be president of the United States," he said. "I believe a lady can be CEO of a company, the superintendent of a school district. But I believe, and this is me, when it comes to (picking) somebody to lead the invocation at a City Council meeting, because of those two sets of verses, I'm going to choose a male."
The council member who received the email reply, Jeff Forrester, said he was shocked by Hogue's words. "I certainly don't share those beliefs," he said. "I think we're all created equally in the eyes of God and in the eyes of our government."
Forrester said he was told by a city manager that the email in question was released through an open records request.
One local resident, Mary Shaddox, expressed her displeasure at the mayor's remarks. “That's his right in his church and his home but he cannot bring it into a government office,” she said.
Due to the fact that other council members get to invite people to lead the invocation, Hogue noted that women have been asked to lead prayers in the past. "There have been multiple women that have led the prayers,” he said. “There have been people of multiple types of religion lead the invocation.”
He added: "I did not intend to try and step on anybody’s toes or upset anybody. I stated my opinion… that’s what it was. When a lady has showed up [to pray at the council meeting], when a different religion that’s not Christian has showed up I’ve always shown the respect that they deserve. But I still have my opinion, just as everyone else does.”
Hogue has been leading the Wylie City Council for the past 12 years.